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Thomas Rödding: "The future came with the question of origin"

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Thomas Rödding, Octobre 2022

Thomas Rödding in october 2022

In 2010, I was having a meal with a former business colleague at a good restaurant. In front of us was a dark glass of red wine and a juicy steak. "Someday, people will want to know the exact origin of this piece of meat and the red wine as a matter of course, without having to ask for a bottle label and the product packaging," I said. The reaction on the other side of the table was loud laughter. He said it was the dumbest idea he had ever heard and ate his steak. '

The first messengers came quietly: "Bio," "Eco," or "Fairtrade" were terms and labels that were meant to charge the product purchase with a good conscience. The first buyers of such products were a niche group. No wonder, consumption was long considered an act of self-realization and identity finding. Most people were interested in whether the product was good for them, not whether its production and origin might be harmful to others.

This changed dramatically.

It no longer only counts what you produce …

Fridays4Future" may have been the most media-attractive reflection of a change in consumption habits, but it certainly wasn't the only one. Step by step, phrases like "do good," "of course I buy organic," or "act sustainably" were added amidst consumer-oriented self-realization. It became "in" to ask questions such as: where does the product come from? Is it healthy? Was child labor used? These questions became more frequent, more nuanced, and more pressing.

… but how you make it.

I'm a food and pleasure enthusiast. I appreciate a good piece of meat or an exquisite pair of shoes. But over 12 years ago, something disturbed my enjoyment: the ignorance. What does "good" mean for meat? Or "exquisite" for shoes? Is it always the higher price that whispers the quality to me without questioning it? And what do I find out when I ask about the meat's origin in a restaurant? Where do I learn where the leather for my shoes comes from? During a sabbatical in 2011, I learned through numerous nature and hunting experiences what true enjoyment means for me: knowing the entire life story of a product personally.

Thought backwards from the plate.

In 2017, I founded DiWiMa as a subsidiary of ZifferEins. The company grew within 5 years into a successful reference model in demonstrating 100% transparency in the wild meat supply chain and digital hunting organization. We depicted a relatively manageable value chain: a hunter hunts, has it dissected and processed, and sells it directly to the end consumer or to a restaurant. I extracted each process step from the forest to the plate and was amazed at how many small steps came together. It was clear to me: this is where digitization can show what it can do.

Technology is not an end to itself: Whats crucial is that we have the will and ability to use IT to rethink the world.

Today, over 100,000 ha of large customers use the solutions of diwima. In December 2022, we had 54 million accesses within 30 days. Our technology in the context of hunting and direct marketing was well received. And then it was time to bring the prototype from the small market to a global market. Because a legislative game changer was rolling from Brussels to companies around the world.

Transparency become mandatory starting January 1st

We were quick. Because we were convinced that the societal urge for transparency in product origin would radically change entire industries. That at that time, in Brussels, the first laws were already being worked on as part of the Eco-design Directive, terms like the "Digital Product Pass" (DPP) were being born on paper, we could not have known. But we were sure: a solution technology was needed - no, a whole SaaS platform - that makes the conventional value chain transparent. The company Narravero was born.

Narravero: „Let it talk!“

We didn't want a "piecemeal solution", but simply to think of everything that is needed to move companies from "having to be transparent" to "wanting to be transparent". We developed the technological platform called Narravero. And indeed, we did not allow any compromises or partial work, but wanted to make the entire life story tellable, from start to finish, from the manufacturer through the suppliers to the consumer and recycler. After all, we are approaching the circular economy at a rapid pace. Our technological state of Narravero:

  • All relevant information about a product is documented and stored along the entire value chain and all over the world with just a few clicks. No extra IT infrastructure is required - existing hardware such as smartphones and PCs are sufficient.

  • All information is seamlessly fed into and selectively displayed through an invisible chip within the product (in the material, label, batch carton, etc.).

  • A commercially available cell phone is needed to read the information: simply hold it up to the product and the narratives from the product and company history become visible through texts, pictures, and videos. Transparency-relevant facts, such as where and under what conditions the pig, cow, or chicken grew up, where the cotton for the T-shirt came from, whether child labor can be excluded 100%, or what the environmental balance of the purchased cosmetics looks like, are included.

  • The complete after-sales service (information on product maintenance or new incentives to buy accessories or complementary products) is invisibly integrated into the product so that it is always available to the customer.

Wide range of needs for sustainable businesses.

My growing team and I were delighted by the speed at which the first inquiries came and from the diverse industries and needs that the companies contacted us with: there's the large fashion conglomerate that wants to completely turn around the internal topic of "CSR and sustainability". Or the traditional craft business that wants to clearly show how meticulous and ethically conscientious they work. Or the highly innovative manufacturer of convenience goods that can align their after-sales area not only significantly more cost-efficient, but above all consistently according to the wishes of their customers.

Our story has just begun. And it will produce countless stories, really good stories. We are all sure of that. Because not only talking about transparency, but showing, proving and making it alive - that is the challenge of the future and our absolute passion!"

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